CU Boulder is excited to welcome students back for a COVID-19 ready fall semester with a flexible, in-person experience designed for safety that ensures access and quality for our students and moves the campus forward.
ISSS is diligently monitoring immigration-related developments related to COVID-19. Please continue to check our website for updates.
- On July 24, 2020, the Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) issued a news release and clarifying questions and answers for international students on F-1 visas for the fall 2020 semester.
- The J-1 student full-time enrollment webpage has been updated to reflect enrollment requirements for fall 2020.
This webpage provides information related to the fall 2020 semester. ISSS is currently working to develop FAQs and will add additional information as it becomes available.
- Information is currently not available for Spring 2021.
Frequenty Asked Questions
Please note that “continuing students” refers to students that have an active F-1 or J-1 SEVIS record and have been studying at CU Boulder prior to fall 2020. “New students” refers to students who have an initial I-20 or DS-2019 and are starting their studies this fall at CU Boulder, either as new or transfer students.
Enrollment & Maintaining Status
The government has confirmed that for the fall 2020 semester students in the United States enrolled in a hybrid program of study such as CU Boulder’s that includes in-person and online components of instruction can count online classes toward a full course of study beyond the usual three credit per semester limit.
Moreover, the government has confirmed that continuing students may be engaged solely in online/distance/remote instruction from within the United States.
The government has confirmed that for the fall 2020 semester continuing F-1 and J-1 students enrolled in a hybrid program of study such as CU Boulder’s that includes in-person and online instruction can count online classes toward a full course of study beyond the usual (pre-pandemic) three credit per semester limit, even if they have left the United States and are taking the online classes from elsewhere.
Please work with International Admissions to defer your I-20/DS-2019 program start date if you are unable to enter the U.S. by August 9, 2020 to pursue a full-course of study with in-person course work.
There are no in-person class requirements for fall 2020 for continuing F-1 and J-1 students.This means F-1 and J-1 students present in the U.S can take all their credits online or they may also take Hybrid In-Person/Online, Hybrid In-Person/Remote, or any other instruction formats.
Please note the cost for Continuing Education courses. If you have questions about the tuition and fees of continuing education courses, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a sponsored student, please check if your scholarship allows you to take continuing education courses.
After fall break, students may choose to depart the United States for the remainder of the fall 2020 semester and maintain their active SEVIS record as long as they continue to be enrolled and participating in courses full-time. Students departing the U.S. should consider travel restrictions that may be in effect in the future that could delay re-entry. Students may also choose to remain in the United States for the remainder of the fall 2020 semester.
- Submit the F-1 Students: Leave of Absence from CU Boulder Form. ISSS will terminate the student’s F-1 record in SEVIS for the positive reason of authorized early withdrawal.
- Students must complete a Return from Leave of Absence Form 60-days prior to their anticipated return to campus. ISSS will either request the reactivation of the F-1 SEVIS record (if applicable) or issue a new I-20 for the next semester (updated financial support documentation is required for a new I-20).
- Review the Office of the Registrar's information on Leave of Absences, complete the CU Withdrawal Form, and, if applicable, apply for a leave of absence.
- Undergraduate students are not required to complete a leave of absence application; however, an application is required to maintain access to campus benefits.
- Graduate students must apply for a leave of absence if they do not enroll in classes for a fall or spring semester.
Immigration Documents & Travel to Campus
If you are currently outside of the United States, prior to entering the United States F-1 or J-1 students must ensure that they have an active SEVIS record and a travel signature (on p. 2 of the I-20, on p. 1 of the DS-2019) provided by ISSS that will not be more than 12 months old when they seek to re-enter the United States. Please review the ISSS Travel Handout.
- F-1 or J-1 students who need a new travel signature should complete the Document Reprint Request Form.
- If you are outside the U.S. with an expired F-1 or J-1 visa, you will require a valid visa to seek re-entry to the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic response has not impacted this requirement.
- U.S. Entry Restrictions
- National Interest Exceptions for Certain Travelers from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland
- Phased Resumption of Routine Visa Services
- 14-Day Stay at Home / Self-Quarantine
- If you will live in campus housing:
- Because of the close proximity of those in residence halls, it is strongly recommended that you complete all 14 days of your quarantine off campus prior to your arrival.
- If you are living in Graduate Family Housing, you are able to quarantine in your private apartment on campus because it is a self-contained unit.
- Students are unable to check-in prior to their scheduled move-in date in order to complete quarantine.
- If you will live in campus housing:
- Undergraduate students cannot enter the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status later than the census date, September 11, 2020 as they will not be eligible to begin classes.
- Continuing graduate students must work with their sponsoring departments to determine the latest date that they may arrive on campus for the fall 2020 semester.
The university is expecting students arriving from outside the U.S. to voluntarily self-isolate and remain off campus for 14 days before any in-person, on-campus contact is made.
J-1 students are still required to meet the immigration regulations that require J-1 exchange visitors and accompanying J-2 dependents to maintain comprehensive medical insurance with evacuation and repatriation coverage that meets U.S. government minimum requirements beginning on the start date of the J-1 program continuing to the end of the J-1 program. There cannot be any breaks or lapses in insurance coverage even if one travels outside the U.S for an extended period of time during the J program. Please review the Insurance Resource List for further information.
Please closely review the OPT I-20 Request Instructions and Documentation Requirements to ensure you have completed your application materials correctly. Afterwards you will need to complete and submit the OPT I-20 Request Form via DocuSign.
Please note the following:
- Your academic advisor can sign your OPT I-20 Request Form electronically.
- You do not have to submit copies of your passport photos to ISSS. Please confirm that your passport photos meet the requirements as listed on the Travel.State.Gov website prior to submitting your OPT application to USCIS.
- After ISSS reviews and processes your request, we will email you a list of suggestions we recommend you make to your OPT application, as well as the OPT Mailing Instructions and the OPT Reporting Requirements. We will also mail your new I-20 that recommends OPT to you at your local address as indicated in the Buff Portal.
- To ensure the document is mailed to the correct address, please confirm that your current local address is in your Buff Portal and update it if necessary. Please review the Updating Your Address in Buff Portal handout for more information on how to update your address.
There are a few things to be aware of if traveling with a pending OPT application:
- If your OPT application is denied while you are outside of the U.S., you cannot re-enter the US in F-1 status to re-apply for OPT. It may be possible to re-enter the US in another visa category (for example, ESTA or tourist visa), but you would no longer be eligible for OPT.
- If additional information is needed for your OPT application, USCIS would mail you a request for evidence (RFE). If you receive an RFE you would need to respond in a certain amount of time and you may have difficulty responding to any request(s) for evidence from USCIS while you are outside of the U.S. which could result in an OPT denial.
- Future travel restrictions could impede your ability to return to the U.S.; travel restrictions may change at a moment’s notice. You will need to carefully consult both the airline and the travel restrictions for the country to which you will be returning to the U.S. from.
If your OPT is approved while you’re abroad, you should have your EAD card with you on your return. Please review International Student Travel FAQ for students on OPT.